Dodgers take small step against Mets

Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Dodgers, built during one of the splashiest spending sprees in baseball history, hope their fortunes began turning Thursday afternoon with the thriftiest of small-ball rallies.
Andre Ethier delivered a go-ahead RBI single with one out in the ninth inning and the Dodgers hung on for a 3-2 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field.
The Dodgers crafted all three of their runs in an old-fashioned manner as they salvaged a split of a six-game road trip to Baltimore and New York and won for the third time in four games after a six-game losing streak.
In addition, the Dodgers -- less than 24 hours removed from blowing a ninth-inning lead and losing on a 10th-inning grand slam by Jordany Valdespin -- improved to 4-10 in games in which they score three or fewer runs.
"This is the type of win we weren't grinding out a couple weeks ago, or even a week ago," Ethier said. "Maybe this is a turning point for us. Keep moving forward and get that feeling that we can win these close games and not just let them slip out of our hands."
Nick Punto opened the ninth with a double off losing pitcher Scott Rice (1-1) and went to third on a groundout to first base by Adrian Gonzalez. Matt Kemp was intentionally walked ahead of Ethier's single to the right-center field gap.
Juan Uribe followed with an RBI infield single to give the Dodgers an insurance run that proved necessary when the Mets' Ike Davis homered leading off the bottom of the inning.
"Punto's hit is really a huge hit, getting that thing started," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Adrian has a great at-bat, basically getting the ball to the right side. Then 'Dre' (singles) and (Uribe) has a good at-bat. It was really kind of a group execution there, so it was good."
Los Angeles, which opened the season with a payroll of $215 million, headed home after the game to begin a stretch in which the Dodgers will play 15 of their next 18 games at Dodger Stadium.
"It's a big momentum game, I think, after losing a tough one last night," Punto said. "That was a big win for us and we're looking forward to getting home."
Kenley Jansen picked up his first win of the season with a scoreless eighth in which he worked out of a two-on, no-out jam. Brandon League, who took the blown save Wednesday, retired the next three batters after Davis' homer to secure his sixth save.
Kemp was the lone Dodgers player with two hits, including an RBI single in the first, when Carl Crawford led off with a hit by pitch, went to second on a Gonzalez groundout and scored on Kemp's hit.
Uribe walked three times, one shy of his career high, before his RBI single.
Before the eventful ninth, the Mets and Dodgers were locked in a pitching duel that resulted in no-decisions for starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jeremy Hefner, who each allowed one run, three hits and three walks in seven innings.
For Ryu, it was his first seven-inning outing since signing a six-year deal with the Dodgers after seven seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization. He also struck out eight.
Ryu's effort largely spared a bullpen that had thrown 14 2/3 innings in the previous four games.
"We've taxed those guys pretty good, so it was nice to get seven out of him," Mattingly said.
The Mets lost a home series for the first time this year. They were aiming to win their first four home series for the first time since 1976.
David Wright had a sacrifice fly for the Mets, and Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy each reached base twice via a single and a walk.
Ryu allowed just one hit and one runner as far as second base through the first five innings before the Mets patiently eked out the tying run in the sixth. Tejada drew a leadoff walk, went to second on Murphy's single, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Wright's sacrifice fly.
"(Ryu) threw the ball very good," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We had a couple opportunities, we just couldn't push any over."
NOTES: The Mets opened the 1976 season by winning home series over the Montreal Expos, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres. They didn't lose a home series that season until the Phillies swept a two-game series May 19-20. ... Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese threw his usual bullpen session Thursday, two days after he had to leave his start in the third inning after being hit in the right leg by a comebacker off the bat of Mark Ellis. He remains in line to start Sunday against the Phillies. ... Dillon Gee takes the mound for the Mets when they open a three-game series against the Phillies on Friday night at Citi Field. The Dodgers head home, where Josh Beckett will start for Los Angeles against the Milwaukee Brewers. ... Dodgers right-hander Shawn Tolleson was scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. Tolleson, who walked two batters without getting an out against the Diamondbacks in his lone appearance of the season on April 12, is expected to miss three to five months. ... Chad Billingsley underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Dodgers right-hander, who was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this year, will be out at least 12 months.

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